“I’ve Lost Myself” – How to Reconnect with Oneself

“I’ve Lost Myself” – How to Reconnect with Oneself

I recently gave a parenting workshop where I met a woman who, at the end of the session, broke down crying saying, “I am so overwhelmed and I’ve lost myself.  I’m nothing that I started out to be – not the professional I worked so hard to become- and I’m no fun anymore.”  When I, off the cuff, just asked her what are some things she likes, she replied, “I don’t even know anymore; I’m so far away from that.”

Wow, I really felt for her.  Feeling overwhelmed is normal and common.  We all have so much to juggle.  Keeping all the balls of life in mid-air is daunting.  Balancing outside work, inside work, family responsibilities, financial tasks, to name a few – is a non-ending feat.  Sometimes it can feel like a perpetual treadmill.  We go to sleep only to get up and start all over again.

But losing oneself – that’s really articulating something deeper and more profound.  To feel so removed from oneself, from one’s likes and interests is really feeling in touch with one’s self, however contradictory this may sound.

It’s saying, I feel myself enough to realize I’ve lost myself to my life whose current is sweeping me away.  I’m not riding the waves, I’m being sucked under by the undercurrent of the daily chores, frustrations and hair-pulling of young motherhood.

How do we reconnect with ourselves when we feel squelched and obliterated by all our obligations, responsibilities, and an overwhelming sense of drowning?

We can’t wait for our kids to grow up to get back to ourselves and start doing ‘our stuff’.   We can’t wait for our hardships to go away so we can have our life back.  Now is our life.  We cannot “let the perfect be the enemy of the good” (Voltaire) and wait for the stars to line up perfectly.

We may not be able to take a long walk alone, but we can take a walk while pushing a stroller and take in the gorgeous fall trees with their exquisitely colorful leaves.  Simply noticing and breathing in the beauty can feel good.  We must incorporate small bites of pleasure and enjoyment so that we can handle the pressures and stress more effectively.   A little can go a long way.  And then we can move to the bigger things, like getting a babysitter to go out for an evening or an afternoon.

There is no time, you say.  That’s correct.  We have to put it in to our day, starting with the smallest of the small.  We have to make a conscious decision to add in something we like.   A mug of hot chocolate.  Take five and do it – wrap your hands around it and savor it for those few minutes.

We must fill our well, drop by drop.  For when it’s depleted and we still must give, we’re giving from a place of emptiness and loss.  And we know where that leaves us – in a state of despair.

So let’s begin by making a list of all our likes, interests, pleasures.  And don’t say there’s no time.  There’s always 2 minutes even if it’s on the toilet with little hands banging on the door.   Even if you start by writing 2 things on the list, and then keep on adding to it.

Is it that scent of lavender that you love?  Buy the little bottle of oil and put it by your bed.  Breathe it in at bedtime, put a few drops on your pillow.  Something small for you at the end of a long day.

Is it getting back to reading?  Get that book and start with a few pages each day.

What small pleasures can you add in to your day?    Give the gift of You back to Yourself  in the smallest of doses and the rewards will start to add up.  Enjoyment will begin to be felt.   As they say, it’s the little things that count.

One more thing – before turning out the light at bedtime, write down 3 things you’re grateful for.  It’s a great way to shift gears to the positive.  Start with the biggest – I’m alive!


Anyone care to post a list of ‘likes’?  Even just a few.   Here’s mine for starters:

Giraffes, purple, hiking, walking, inspirational and unique people, memoirs, new experiences, waves, the sound of water, Barbara Streisand.

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12 thoughts on ““I’ve Lost Myself” – How to Reconnect with Oneself

  1. Elle Sommer says:

    Great message Harriet. I remember a time when I didn’t know who I was…I seemed to be a conglomeration of everyone else in my world and somewhere underneath it all was me, buried.

    Your idea of getting back to the little things in life that are meaningful to someone is spot on. For myself, living close to beaches, that’s what I did, I walked along the beach every morning and chose to feel thankful and before too long, I became it, and before too long I re-discovered myself.

    Love Elle

    1. Hi Elle,
      Thanks for sharing. Wonderful how you ‘chose to feel thankful’. Small things can begin that shift in getting connected to ourselves once again. We must focus on bringing that into our lives, however busy or overwhelmed we feel. It’s the antidote.

  2. Beth says:

    Great post! I really enjoyed your writing and the important message that came through loud and clear. We need to listen to ourselves and then make changes when it is not we want to hear. Thanks for walking on the path of bringing joy into our lives.

    1. Hi Beth,
      Thanks so much. That’s the key – making changes when ‘it’s not what we want to hear.’ First we listen then we act, taking those baby steps.

  3. name says:

    thank you very much for i am live start.thanks again

  4. suziq44 says:

    I just came across your post. I am a single working mom with 2 kids full-time. No breaks. 🙂 i have been raising them on my own since they were 3 months and 6 years. They are my world. But i constantly feel stressed and overwhelmed… house, yard-work, bills, job, kids activities etc. I recently started trying to figure out why i felt so unhappy. I can’t even finish a project because it feels so pointless. I discovered it was because i had completely lost myself over the past few years. Now i am trying to figure out how to regain myself. I struggle to even remember “who” i was before i started to feel so lost. Thank you for the glimmer of hope and some ideas to get my life back 🙂

    1. Hi Suziq,

      Yes, it is so common to be swimming uptide trying to keep our head above water. And at some point we realize, hey, am I simply living a routinized life of sheer obligations?!

      It’s great that you’ve noticed that you’re missing in this picture and obviously running on empty. That’s your starting point. In your quiet moments (however few they are), connect with who you were ‘before’ by thinking, visualizing, allowing yourself to really feel it. You can journal it in free style writing or list it.
      Then continue with all of your interests, your likes, and don’t edit. Pick one or two things to start with. And start with the smallest amount of time each day, be it 5 minutes. Then give yourself a couple of hours once or twice a week to get out and engage in your ‘like’. It could even be sitting alone in Starbucks with a book and a cup of joe.

      Becoming aware is the beginning. Now it’s up to you to bring some bits of ‘you’ back.
      And don’t forget to have Fun with your kids. Kids need to see that living is enjoyable, not a chore.

      Check out this post: http://rebuildlifenow.com/2013/07/22/happiness-boosters/

      Thank you for sharing here. I’m glad this post ‘spoke’ to you and gave you a “glimmer of hope”.

  5. Jay21 says:

    I’m lost and don’t where to start the energy to start, I lost myself 13 years ago and never found who I am I battle every day I have no one to lean on, I can’t keep appointments stay home go nowhere I move from my town 9 years ago and still have no friends and I haven’t been able to stay in jobs for long I lose it.

    1. Hi Jay,
      I’m sorry to hear everything seems so difficult. Perhaps a good place to start is to hook up with a good counselor/therapist/coach in your area so that you can get support as you embark on your journey of rebuilding your life, one small step at a time.

  6. kandarpa says:

    I cant realize the
    things that i see. i dont have friends and i have lost my attitude and lives on you attitude. I care for other peoples. When i do something or say something i think that someone will laugh on me. I always think that whatever i m telling or doing is aall wrong. Plz tell me how to overcome such things. I hve lost myself tottaly

    1. Thanks for sharing here. I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time. Start doing for others – acts of kindness. When we step outside ourselves in the service of others, even in the smallest of ways, we feel better and useful. We all have something to offer.
      Spend time outside and notice the beauty around you. Rise those sunsets; look up at the sky. Just a beginning…..

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